Me My Life The Blog

A New Direction

I had planned to do a straightforward recap of the Alt Summit, 2012. I’ve tried to sit down and write it all down for you, but I’m struggling. It isn’t because Alt wasn’t amazing (it was), or because I had a bad time (I had fun and learned a few things). I’m struggling because of some news that awaiting me upon my return. My last seven days have felt something like this: nervous, eager, reaffirmed, happy, delayed, scared, and finally, hopeful.

Tuesday: Nervous

The usual thoughts ran through my head. Did I pack the right things? Was my panel prepared? Would my family fare well while I’m gone? Could I get through all of the work I needed to do, before I had to leave?

Wednesday: Eager

I had prepared as much as I was able, and it was time to go. I was on the very first panel at the first Alt Summit in 2010, and I watched the summit via twitter last year, sad to be missing out but too pregnant to travel. I was excited about going back again, and looking forward to it. This was going to be fun!

Thursday: Reaffirmed

Alt came this year, for me, at the tail end of a lot of work. I’ve been doing more than ever, trying to juggle my blogging commitments with my family life, taking on too much at times, and having to put my head down and work. Being surrounded by my peers though, so many passionate, hard-working, and successful bloggers, reaffirmed that I’m heading in the right direction. I’m fortunate to have a job, unconventional as it is, doing something I love. I want to see Making it Lovely grow, and realize all of its potential.

Friday: Happy

Alt Design Summit 2012 - Friday morning

Jordan, Kelly, me, and Maggie spoke about Growing a Readership. I’ve put together a recap of the Twitter conversations that happened throughout our panel, which was one of the most well-attended! My weepiest moment of the day came as Ben, the co-founder of Pinterest, gave a particularly inspiring keynote and received a standing ovation. His infographic feels especially relevant right now.

The entire conference was amazing; everything I’d hope it would be and more. Thank you to Gabby, Sarah, and Kate, and to all of the people who help make Alt the blogging event I most look forward to each year.

Saturday: Delayed

And homesick. De-icing the plane, flying against a strong headwind, and landing in an airport that was under construction all contributed to my plane landing two minutes after my connection left. I was placed on standby, with a confirmed seat on a plane for Monday afternoon. I spent the night in the hotel closest to the Pheonix airport.

Sunday: Scared

The next day, while other passengers lost their tempers and berated airline employees, I was able to get a confirmed seat on a plane home in the late morning (it’s always better to be nice). We were delayed though, and spent an hour sitting on the runway before takeoff due to weather conditions back home. We were finally given the OK to fly into Chicago, and I arrived home approximately 25 hours after first leaving the hotel in Salt Lake City. I then picked up the kids and immediately turned around to go to my mom’s house because we were supposed to be there for a birthday party.

All of that made for a very long day, but it wasn’t the reason I was scared.

Brandon lost his job. He had found out on Thursday, but he waited to tell me until I had finally arrived home with the kids late Sunday night, after we had put them to bed.

Monday: Hopeful

Our dream has been to reach the point at which Brandon could leave his job. While we had assumed it would be in a planned, responsible way, we will have to embrace our new circumstances.

Do we go all-in on the blog? I’m not making enough to solely support my family, but we have to look at the numbers and see if I could get it there. How long would it take if we were devoting all of our time and energy to it? (Six months? A year? Longer?) Should we do something a little crazy, like buy a store? It has never been a goal of ours, but if you’re one that believes things happen for a reason, the universe seems to be aligning in that way. Or does Brandon look for another steady, 9-5 job? He has been the rock that has made it possible for me to get to the point I’m at today. While the benefits and stability that come along with traditional employment are reassuring (especially with a family and a mortgage), I’d love for him to be as fulfilled in his work as I am. These are all things that will be weighing heavily on us, and we need to figure out our next direction.

I’m hopeful. But I’m still scared, too, to be honest.

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  • Reply
    January 24, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    what a tough situation to come home to, but what a loving husband to let you enjoy your time away without burdening you with the inevitable news. and, since it was an inevitable situation (brandon not having that job, not necessarily losing it before deciding to leave), i’m sure things will work out just fine. it’s just a leap of faith and you’ve gotta trust you’ll land on your feet. and we’ve all got faith in you and your lovely family. =)

  • Reply
    silly eagle books
    January 24, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    I”m sorry about your husband losing his job! But I know you will find something new that works for you. I love your blog and know you could take it as big as you need it to be.

  • Reply
    January 24, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    I too believe everything happens for a reason…although this has to be scary as hell with a family and mortgage. I’m rooting for you guys…good luck with everything!!

  • Reply
    January 24, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    I have no idea how a blog makes money (I have a blog but do it for fun) so I can’t begin to understand how that part works, but just want to say, I love YOUR blog and you have taught me so much, linked me to many others, and I am in awe of all you young women (I’m 67)with your creativity and energy and fearlessness in ‘living’ in this blog design world!

    If I were younger……………………….

    but I’d really rather quilt, knit, embroider, weave…………you get the picture! ha

  • Reply
    Jamie Tinaglia Lee
    January 24, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    My heart goes out to you both… It’s definitely a frightening time but ripe with opportunity. I remember feeling those emotions when I lost my job about 6 months after we bought our house and 6 months before we were getting married. Looking back I can say it was divine and God’s timing is so perfect. Now a struggling Realtor but I LOVE what I do and am so fulfilled. I hope you find what is best for your family at this crucial turning point.
    <3 Jamie Lee

  • Reply
    Sarah van Loon
    January 24, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    I’m never sure what to say in situations like this, but one thing I do know, Nicole, is that you are an incredible woman with immeasurable talent, and a whole ton of people just waiting to come out and support you. Know that we (your readers) are here for you and want to see you (and Brandon/your whole family) succeed! – and if we can help make that possible, we would love to.

    Sending happy vibes your way.

  • Reply
    January 24, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    Sorry to hear about Brandon. I wish you both strength, inspiration and clarity as you venture into weighing your options and making decisions. I am a huge fan of your blog, as well as many others :), and am sending you lots of positive energy! Good luck!

  • Reply
    aunt J
    January 24, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    If you build it, they will come. Why not open “making it lovely,” the store? Feature fun stuff from your blog. You can also have an office in back that your interior design career can come out of. You have soooooo many followers that love you. I bet your family could help you get it off and running. Something to consider……. hummmmmm.

  • Reply
    Molly the Waffler
    January 24, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    As a long time reader of your blog, I’ve watched it evolve and I know you (and Brandon, if this is what you decide) can take it anywhere — you’re so creative and you’ve got a strong and supportive fan base. Good luck!

  • Reply
    January 24, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    It’s always something. If Brandon wants to join you in your business, I’m sure you could really expand the blog and ancillary services. But, someone should get a part time job like at Home Depot, or Starbucks so that you can get good health insurance. Don’t panic and start slowly. He can help you out while exploring your options. Looking forward to the results. Ann

  • Reply
    January 24, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    You really should read the blog
    her husband lost his job and they up and moved for one year to Hawaii.
    No matter what you do, I’m sure everything will be A-ok.
    I was at ALT and loved your panel.

  • Reply
    Tonia B.
    January 24, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Regardless of what you decide, I wish you luck. I love your blog and know you will be successful at whatever you put your mind and heart to, however scary it may be!

  • Reply
    Becca B.
    January 24, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    I’ve loved watching your blog and your family grow! So sorry to hear of this unexpected change, but you are SO creative and talented…I’m sure that you’ll find the perfect path!

  • Reply
    January 24, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    Bummer, and best of luck to you guys. Were you thinking about a certain fun store in OP that’s currently up for sale? That could be very interesting…

    • Reply
      Making it Lovely
      January 24, 2012 at 2:42 pm

      The timing is auspicious, no?

      • Reply
        January 24, 2012 at 2:47 pm

        Hey, go for it. I was tempted, but decided to focus on Bluebird Goods. I think you’d be great there. You can count on me for a decent percentage of sales! :)

      • Reply
        Kathryn Humphreys
        January 24, 2012 at 4:00 pm

        Clearly meant to be (at least from a public pressure standpoint). Finn would be your beat officer :)

        I’m sorry you guys have to go through this.

  • Reply
    January 24, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear about Brandon’s job. If he is at all interested in it, I know Oak Park is in desperate need of a microbrew pub. I’m too chicken to do it but hoping that someone else isn’t!

  • Reply
    January 24, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    Your seminar at Alt was lovely! I felt similar all week but I wanted to give you a little bit of support.

    My husband lost his job our of no where almost a year ago. We are both designers but he always wanted to work at an agency and I always wanted to do my own thing. So he was the one giving me the ability to freelance, blog, and do what I wanted with his consistant income. When after being with the company for 6 months he became unhappy and began dreaming of beginning his own business with some friends. But had no solid plans of how or when.

    When he and one of the guys dreaming beginning their company both were let go VERY unexpectantly we went through a time of complete terror. Being young neither of us had the funds to built up yet to support us both being freelance. I had a ton of work coming in but not what I thought we could live on solely. Losing consistency may be one of the hardest things.

    This time of him losing his job drove us to both dig in our heels, figure out how to live on less and be content with less. We learned to enjoy simpler things and it made us get serious about life in the best way. Now a year and a half later his company has taken off in and he is about to become the bread winner in the next few months. As for me I was able to prove to myself that I could support us and if all else failed still we could run my business together. I was able to see my own potential and really find my passions amongst all the craziness.

    Sometimes the most unexpected can be what drives you into a place where you have to find who new part of yourself you never knew existed. This is true for yourself and for your relationship. I love my husband more and value our relationship more than I day the “shit” hit the fan.

    You guys are about to begin an amazing journey of struggle, growth, and learning to rely on each other and your relationship. I am 100% sure you will look back and know it was the best thing that could have ever happened.

    Hope that all makes you feel hopeful and supported! It is hard but awesome all at the same time ;)

  • Reply
    Little Gray Pixel
    January 24, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear about Brandon’s job loss. Stupid @#$(@#* economy.

    On the bright side …

    Life changes like this are never easy, but each day is a new one and before you know it all this turmoil will be in the past. Sometimes a drastic turn of events is just the catalyst you need to do exactly what you want to do. I have my fingers crossed for you both. Make some lemonade!

  • Reply
    January 24, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    I’m sorry to hear about the recent unexpected changes. I do believe that things in life happen for a reason though and this could be just the opportunity for something even better for your family! I can only imagine how scary it is right now though so I’ll be thinking happy, peaceful thoughts for you. And, if it is an OP store that you’re opening, expect me as one of your customers! :)

  • Reply
    January 24, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    Sorry to hear your news, but we have found that things that seem disastrous at the time are often the push you need for a whole new phase. Wishing you all the best.

  • Reply
    January 24, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    You have had quite the week!! So sorry Nicole:( Rachelle and I had the same experience coming home. They even lost my luggage and ruined Rachelles…ugggg. You and your fam are most definitely in my prayers. You are a strong strong woman!

  • Reply
    January 24, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    He does print production, right? Tell him to email me. I might have a few leads.

    I also have a gig open for digital production at our downtown offices. Madison & Wabash.

    No worries! You guys will be fine. The design industry is chugging along pretty well and good people are hard to find.



  • Reply
    January 24, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Make a bad thing into a good thing. It works. Good luck and have fun!!!!!

  • Reply
    Jill Browning
    January 24, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Things will work out for the best, but here’s to hoping that happens sooner rather than later. Hang in there!!! You’re doing such a great job! :)

    • Reply
      Jill Browning
      January 24, 2012 at 2:52 pm

      Also, thanks for sharing the news with us. I’m sure that wasn’t easy.

  • Reply
    Alisha Vernon
    January 24, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    So sorry. I came home to the same news 4 months ago. It’s a crazy whirlwind of emotions and reevaluating for sure. I hope things settle and you’re both able to find your way. We’re still in this weird limbo mode.

  • Reply
    January 24, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    Nicole, even in this difficult situation, never forget that you already have the most important thing in the whole world: a loving family and ever-supporting friends. Everybody is already rooting for you!!

    English is not my first language so please forgive my lacking vocabulary. There is a song in spanish that says: “Saber que se puede, querer que se pueda/quitarse los miedos, sacarlos afuera/pintarse la cara color esperanza/
    tentar al futuro con el corazón”

    To know it’s possible, to want it to happen
    to get rid of our fears, to expel them
    to paint our faces with the colour of hope
    to tempt the future with our hearts

  • Reply
    Small House Life
    January 24, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    My vote is no to the store.

    If you took even half the money it would take for bricks and mortar store, and invested it in your site (and possibly 2nd site, maybe one Brandon could run with) you’d have the income AND a much more flexible lifestyle.

    Dee :)

  • Reply
    Cara Crowley
    January 24, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Oh Nicole, my heart goes out to you. What a roller coaster of emotions. I was at your seminar at Alt and I am a believer that if you build it, it will come I (I may have borrowed this idea for a movie but I still believe it :) ) Keep on pushing forward building and designing the life you, Brandon and your family want. The stability will come.

  • Reply
    January 24, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    Ooof… what a week. I don’t have any pearls of wisdom, but I hope that the force will be with you all. You seem to be resourceful, hardworking folk and I sincerely hope awesome developments are in your immediate future.

    Best of luck!

  • Reply
    January 24, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    I have so much faith in you that the scariest part of your story to me was reading about the dicey weather conditions that were so bad that they impeded safe travel. Darn that Mother Nature! I am excited for you–and I know that as you and Brandon figure this out and decide what to do and how to do it, that it will all be….lovely, in the end. Best of luck!


  • Reply
    jenn aka the picky girl
    January 24, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Oh my goodness! What a whirlwind of emotions in such a short span of time. I’m so sorry about your new and hope you have peace and decisiveness by your side as you attempt to realign your life. I’ve been through something similar (but on my own), and it’s never easy – but it can also give you a direction you never had before.

  • Reply
    Andrea Howe
    January 24, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Wow Nicole, what a lot of wonderful support you have surrounding you guys. It is so scary to go through this but you guys will figure it out. When i was 7 months pregnant Art quit his job to start his own company. Looking back it was a kinda crazy stupid thing to do, especially since we didn’t have much in savings. But really at the time it was the best move because things were going south and he probably would’ve been laid off eventually. Anyhow, 7 years later come February 7th, it was the best decision he could have ever made, as scary as it was. Sometimes we choose our course, and sometimes others choose it for us. Looks like someone is telling you it’s time to chase your dreams, no matter how scary that seems to be right now.

  • Reply
    January 24, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Nicole, best wishes as you all make big decisions! Things absolutely happen for a reason. I’m sure it will all work out. Just think, if you could grow a blog with Brandon’s support, what can you and Brandon choose to do together? God’s watching out for your family for sure. I can’t wait to see what comes of this all.

  • Reply
    Rebecca @ beautiful square feet
    January 24, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear that has happened to you Nicole – with 2 little ones myself, I completely understand why you’re scared. I really hope things sort themselves out for you very soon, whatever you choose to do x

  • Reply
    January 24, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    I appreciate the honesty and transparency of this post. We have been living “scared” for a couple of years now, and by scared I mean things are always up in the air financially and unknown BUT what I have come to realize is that it doesn’t have to be a negative feeling or something that sends your cortisol levels sky high. We have learned to live with it and by simplifying our life financially and limiting our time commitments we have settled in for the long haul. Now what was a scared/unknown feeling feels more like excited about the possibilities/unknown feeling.

    I cannot wait to see what the future holds for you and your family…

  • Reply
    January 24, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    I too, like others have voiced, am a firm believer that when one door shuts, another one opens. And it seems like you two will be successful at whatever life has in store for you!

  • Reply
    January 24, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    Nicole, I’m so sorry to hear it, but I’m excited at new prospects for you guys.

    What would Brandon’s role be on the site? Would you consider launching an online store? With far less overhead than a brick and mortar, it’s less of a risk, plus you capitalize on your online notoriety. I know it would be filled with lots of lovely things in pink.

    • Reply
      Making it Lovely
      January 24, 2012 at 9:35 pm

      Brandon’s good at video (both editing and shooting), so that’s an option if we come up with some great video content. If we bought a store, we would also have an online component, but it wouldn’t be a solely online shop.

      • Reply
        January 30, 2012 at 10:22 am

        DIY videos from you would be a huge hit! I look forward to seeing what the future holds for your family. You’re gonna do great. :-D

  • Reply
    January 24, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Sorry, I don’t comment often but wanted to let you know that I’ve followed your blog since you were just pregnant with E and are confident that you and B can turn this thing to your advantage. Hang in there!

  • Reply
    January 24, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I’m a long time reader and want to send as much support your way as I can through the interwebs!

  • Reply
    January 24, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    So sorry to hear about your current stressors. You have mega talents and will land on your feet. I agree w/ those who suggested an online store. More fiscally conservative. I would also suggest that you begin to take on clients and branch out into interior design. That seems to be among your many talents! Best of luck. I think there are wonderful things in store for you!

  • Reply
    January 24, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    I’ve been reading all the amazing re-caps of Alt and hope to get there next year, but I just wanted to pop on and say that my word for the year (like I’ve ever had a word for the year before!) is “leap.” Holding you and your family in the light. Quakers often talk about something called a “way opening.” If you’re quiet and trust, the way will open. xo

  • Reply
    January 24, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    With great risk comes great reward! I was laid off 5 years ago (when the economy was just getting horrible) and took a big risk. It definitely paid off! Good luck to you.

  • Reply
    January 24, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    Sometimes these little pushes (although really hard) are just what you need to soar.You are a HARD WORKER and full of great ideas. This year will be filled with new things and sure you’ll have your tough moments but you’ll be able to connect yourself with your readers, your colleagues & GROW GROW GROW.

    I have faith in you. 2012 is going to be your year.

  • Reply
    January 24, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    Virtual hugs from your devoted Philly reader. Despite the scariness of the present, opportunities and adventures most definitely lie ahead. I’m rooting for you guys!!!

  • Reply
    January 24, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    i’m so sorry to hear about Brandon losing his job. i know ya’ll are are strong couple & you’ll get through this. i know there’s a lot of great bloggers out there that you can talk with about what could come next.

  • Reply
    January 24, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    Sorry to hear about the bad news…

    You guys are smart and mega-talented, so I don’t worry about you landing on your feet :)

  • Reply
    January 24, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    My husband lost his contract job 3 years ago due to budget cuts and the business I was working for closed in May.

    It didn’t seem like it at the time, but both events have been the best things for our family in the long run.

    My husband ended up with a permanent position the day before a hiring freeze and I am currently doing bookkeeping from home while enjoying the company of my kids while I look for a job. And keep up with your blog.

    Everything happens for a reason….you may not know “why” right now, but you’ll get there. Your blog is amazing and genuine and I’ll continue to read your blog(s) throughout this journey.

  • Reply
    Beck's Chic Life
    January 24, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    Everything happens for a reason… I think the universe is telling you something. Listen carefully and follow your heart!

  • Reply
    Mrs. Kinne
    January 24, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    I have no advice– just a million positive thoughts that I am sending your way.

  • Reply
    Katie Truelove
    January 24, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    I am so sorry to hear that. I truly look forward to hearing more about what you guys decide!

  • Reply
    January 24, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    I’m sorry to hear that,must be a very hetic day after such long trip& busy day. I too will be jobless end of Jan, and still thinking what’s my next direction. scared but hopefull is also what I feel right now. Hope Brandon can do something that he loves. Like most of the comments, I also believe everything happens for a reason, although I still pulling my hair out, asking what should I do next :p

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